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A-Sexy Positivity

This post was originally published at for the June Carnival of Aces on the topic of sex positivity.

My relationship to sex positivity has never been uncomplicated. Having identified as a feminist long before identifying as anything else, I find myself sending my younger sister unsolicited excerpts of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Empowerment and a World Without Rape and periodically delivering lectures on slut shaming to anyone unfortunate enough to be near.

At the same time, I hesitate to label myself “sex positive.” I often do so reluctantly in situations after coming out as asexual, as if needing to somehow reaffirm a claim to occupying feminist and queer spaces, only to wonder afterwards why this pressure – self-imposed or otherwise – to embrace sex carries so much weight.

The components of a sex positive ideology – empowerment, choice, pleasure – are just as essential for asexuals as for sexuals. In practice, however, the association that sex positivity encourages between sex and liberation makes asexuality invisible or portrays it as repressed, conservative, and/or pathological. The idea that good sex is a fundamental part of life, that it is essential to knowing oneself and connecting with others, can be alienating for those whose experiences tell them otherwise.

As so often seems to happen, some of the accessibility issues surrounding sex positivity are rooted in the language it uses. The very term – sex positivity – frames the discussion in ...